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Daube Glace

The beef answer to hogshead cheese (sort of), daube glace is a cold dish associated with the holiday season. It’s also one of those dishes that everybody talks about as being wonderful, but relatively few people eat. The explanation is that this is a lot of work to prepare. Indeed, I personally think you’re better off buying it already made from Langenstein’s or the like.

I failed to take that advice a couple of years ago and tried making my own. I researched the recipe in a bunch of local cookbooks, most of which had more or less the same ancient recipe from century-old Picayune Creole Cook Book. That source differed from the others in using pig’s feet to get the gelatin required to create the glace effect.

I thought about the gelatin, and oxtails came to mind. When you make a stock with them, they give an amazing amount of gelatin. The shreds of beef that come from it are very nice, too. So I thought I’d use that as the only meat in the mix.

This recipe takes two days to prepare, but most of the time it doesn’t need much direct attention. Still, if you make this I think you’ll find your guests will like it, and you can claim to have cooked up something challenging.

  • 6 lbs. oxtails
  • 2 Tbs. oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • 1 Tbs. mixed peppercorns (or black)
  • 4 cloves, crushed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 1/2 tsp. marjoram
  • 6 small carrots, finely diced
  • 1 large rutabagas, finely diced
  • 8 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • 1 very ripe (reddish) green bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 tsp. thyme
  • 1 tsp. dill
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1/4 cup chili sauce
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 bunch chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne
  • 3 Tbs. salt
  • 1 Tbs. black pepper
  • 1/2 cup tawny port (or ruby port that’s been sitting around open)
  • 3 envelopes Knox unflavored gelatin
  • 2 Tbs. Tabasco Caribbean-style steak sauce, or Pickapeppa

1. Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a heavy kettle or Dutch oven. Sear the oxtails in batches on all sides until they’re lightly browned. Remove the oxtails as you finish browning them.

2. Return the oxtails to the pot and add all the ingredients in the first part of the list above, up to the marjoram. Add enough water to barely cover everything. Bring the pot to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for three to four hours, uncovered.

3. Remove the oxtails to a bowl. Strain the stock into another bowl and discard all the vegetables. Pull all the lean beef off the oxtails and set aside. Add all the juices that come out as you do this to the stock. Discard the bones and fat. Slice or shreds any big chunks the beef into pieces no bigger than about an inch long. Cover the beef and refrigerate.

4. Cover the bowl of stock and refrigerate four hours or overnight. The fat will rise to the surface and form a solid cap. Remove this and discard. The stock will have set into a jelly, from all the natural gelatin in the bones.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

5. Bring to a boil one cup of water in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the carrots, rutabagas, and lemon slice. Cook until the vegetables just begin to turn soft. Remove the lemon, and strain out the water. Leave the vegetables in the saucepan, and add the garlic, onions, celery, bell pepper, thyme, and dill. Add the wine, vinegar, and chili sauce. Bring to a boil for a minute.

6. Add the stock and the beef to the pot and stir until the mixture is well blended. Cover the pot and put it in a preheated 350-degree oven for three hours. Remove and cool.

7. Skim any fat from the pot and discard. Add the parsley, port, and steak sauce. Dissolve the gelatin in a cup of water and stir in thoroughly.

8. Add salt, pepper, and cayenne to your taste. (This should be on the spicy side.) Pour the mixture into rectangular glass baking dishes (or terrine molds or whatever strikes your fancy). Refrigerate overnight (at least).

9. Before unmolding, scrape off any fat that may have risen to the surface. To remove the daube glace from the pan, run a knife all the way around the sides, and set the baking dish in a bigger pan of hot water for a minute. You can slice the daube glace before serving, or serve as is with a wide-bladed knife for guests to use to serve themselves. Serve with crackers or toasted French bread.

Serves a party of about 20, or appetizers for about 12.

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